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Pilgrim's Progress in Today's English
By John Bunyan
Moody PublishersCopyright © 1992 The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago
All rights reserved.
christian in trouble
As I walked through the wilderness of the world, I came to a place where there was a den. There I lay down to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. In my dream I saw a man clothed with rags, standing by a path with a book in his hand and a great burden upon his back. His face was turned from his own house, which stood nearby. I saw him open his book and read, then begin to weep. No longer being able to control his feelings, he broke out with a mournful cry, saying, "What shall I do?"
In this condition he went into his house. Drying his tears, he restrained himself as best he could so that his wife and children might not know of his distress. But he could not be silent long, for his trouble increased. At length he began to tell his wife and children: "Oh, my dear wife and children, I, your father and companion, am undone by reason of an awful burden that lies heavily upon my heart. I am surely warned that this our city shall be burned with fire from heaven, in which terrible destruction all of us shall surely perish unless some way can be found whereby we may be delivered." His family were amazed—not that they believed what he was saying was true, but they thought he was losing his mind. Since night was falling,they hurriedly put him to bed, hoping that sleep would settle his nerves and relieve him of his dreadful fears. But he spent the night in sighing and tears.
When the morning came, they asked him how he felt. "Worse, and worse," he replied. When he began talking again of his condition, his family became impatient and rude. After hearing his mournful words for a while, they tried to drive away his pitiful mood by harsh, surly treatment—sometimes chiding, sometimes scolding, and sometimes ignoring him completely. Then he withdrew to his own room to lament his misery, and to pity and pray for his family. He would also walk alone in the field, occasionally reading from his book, and praying aloud.
One day, in deep meditation while walking in the field, he burst out, crying, "What shall I do to be saved?" He looked this way and that, as if he would run; yet he stood still, for he could not decide which way to go.
Then I saw a man approach him, and heard him say, "My name is Evangelist. May I ask why are you so disturbed?"
He answered, "Sir, I understand from this book I hold in my hand that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment. And I am not willing to do the first nor able to do the second."
"Why not willing to die," asked Evangelist, "seeing this life is attended with so many evils?" The man answered, "Because I am afraid this burden on my back will sink me lower than the grave, that I shall fall into Hell. And if I am not prepared to die, I am not ready for judgment, and to go from there to execution. The thoughts of these things make me weep."
"If that is your condition," said Evangelist, "then why do you stand here?"
"Because I do not know where to go."
Then Evangelist gave him a scroll which had these words written within: "Flee from the wrath to come."
Having read these words, the man looked earnestly at the Evangelist and asked, "But where must I go?"
Pointing with his finger over a very wide field, Evangelist said, "Do you see that little gate yonder on the far side of the field?"
"No," he said.
"Then do you see that tiny shining light?"
"I think I do," he answered.
"Now keep your eye on that light, and you will go straight to the little gate, at which, when you knock, you will be told what you must do."
Leaves City of Destruction
Now I saw in my dream that the man began to run. He had not gone far from his house when his wife and children came crying out after him to come back. But he put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying, "Life! Life! Eternal life!" He did not look back, but increased his speed toward the middle of the plain.
Pursued by Obstinate and Pliable
His neighbors came out to see him run and, as he ran, some mocked, others threatened, and some called after him to return. Among those who did so were two men who resolved to go after him and bring him back. The name of one was Obstinate, and the name of the other was Pliable.
Now by this time the man had gotten quite a distance away. But the two men were good runners, with strong resolution, and they soon overtook him.
Then said the man, "Neighbors, why have you come?"
"To persuade you to return with us," they answered.
He said, "That can never be. You dwell in the City of Destruction, the place where I also was born, and all those who die there will sink lower than the grave into a place that burns with fire and brimstone. Be convinced, good neighbors, and go along with me."
"What!" exclaimed Obstinate. "And leave all our friends and comforts behind?"
"Yes," said Christian (this was his name), "for all that you forsake is not worthy to be compared with a little of that which I seek to enjoy. If you will go along with me and keep in this way, you shall fare as well as I; because where I go, there is enough for all and to spare. Come with me and prove my words."
OBSTINATE: And what are the things you seek, since you leave all the world to find them?
CHRISTIAN: I seek an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, that will never fade away, safely laid up in Heaven, to be bestowed at the appointed time on all who diligently seek it. Read it, if you will, right here in my book.1
OBSTINATE: Oh, bosh! Away with your book! Will you go back with us or not?
CHRISTIAN: No, because I have now put my hand to the plow.
OBSTINATE: Come then, Pliable, let us go back without him; there is getting to be a lot of these crazy fools, who, when they take a fancy to a thing, are wiser in their own eyes than seven men who can give a reason.
PLIABLE: Don't revile. If what the good man says is true, he is wiser than we are; the things he hopes to gain are much better than what we have. I am inclined to go with him.
OBSTINATE: What, more fools still? You had better listen and go back with me. Who knows where this unbalanced fellow may lead you? Be wise, and go back with me.
CHRISTIAN: No, come with me, Pliable. There are such things to be gained as I spoke of, and many more very wonderful things besides. If you do not believe me, read it here in my book; and the truth expressed in it is all confirmed by the blood of Him who wrote the book.
PLIABLE: Well, neighbor Obstinate, I am making my decision. I am going along with this good man; I cast in my lot with him. But now, good Christian, do you know the way to this delightful place?
CHRISTIAN: I was directed by a man whose name is Evangelist to hurry on to a little gate that is before us, where I shall receive instruction about the way.
PLIABLE: Then, let us be going.
OBSTINATE: And I will go back to my house. I will not be a companion of such deceived, fantastic fools.
Now, I saw in my dream that after Obstinate departed, Christian and Pliable went on together across the plain.
CHRISTIAN: Neighbor Pliable, tell me about yourself. I am glad that you have decided to go with me. If Obstinate had felt what I have felt of the power and terrors of that which is yet unseen, he would not have so lightly turned back.
PLIABLE: Now, since we are alone, tell me further, Christian, what these things are where we are going, and how they are to be obtained.
CHRISTIAN: I can conceive of them with my mind better than tell of them with my tongue; but, since you are desirous to know, I will read of them in my book.
PLIABLE: And do you think that the words of your book are certainly true?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, indeed; for it was written by Him who cannot lie.
PLIABLE: Well, then, what are they?
CHRISTIAN: There are crowns of glory to be given and bright garments that will make us shine like the sun in the firmament of heaven.
PLIABLE: That is marvelous. And what else?
CHRISTIAN: There shall be no more sorrow nor crying, for He who is owner of the kingdom will wipe away all tears.
PLIABLE: And what companions shall we have there?
CHRISTIAN: We shall be with seraphim and cherubim, dazzling beings to see. There also we shall meet with thousands and tens of thousands of the redeemed of this earth who have gone on before us to that happy land, all of them pure and good; every one walking in holiness, and enjoying the presence of the King forever. In a word, there we shall see the elders wearing their golden crowns; and the holy virgins with their golden harps; and there will be the transformed men who by the world were cut in pieces, or burned in flames, or fed to wild beasts, or drowned in the sea, because of their love for the Lord of the kingdom—all well and clothed with immortal bodies as with a spotless garment.
PLIABLE: The hearing of these things is enough to enrapture one's soul. But are they to be enjoyed by us? How shall we get to be sharers in them?
CHRISTIAN: The Lord, the Ruler of that country, has recorded it here in His book, the substance of which is this: If we really want Him and His kingdom and are willing to receive Him as our Lord and Saviour, He will grant our wish freely.
PLIABLE: Well now, my good companion, I am glad to hear of these things. Come, let us make better time.
CHRISTIAN: I cannot go as fast as I would, because of this load on my back.
Falls into Slough of Despond
Now, I saw in my dream that just as they ended this conversation they came near a miry slough that was in the middle of the plain. Being careless, they both fell into the bog, which was called the Slough of Despond. Here they floundered for a time in the mud. Soon Christian, because of his burden, began to sink.
Then said Pliable, "Ah, good Christian, where are you now?"
CHRISTIAN: Truly, I do not know.
At this Pliable became offended, and angrily criticized his fellow traveler: "Is this the happiness you have been telling me about? If we have such miserable misfortune as this at the beginning of our journey, what may we expect before we reach our journey's end? If I can but get out of this mess alive, you may have the heavenly country and all its glories, and enjoy it all alone, so far as I am concerned." With that, he gave a desperate lunge and got out of the mire on that side of the slough which was toward his own house. So away he went, and Christian saw him no more.
Christian, left to flounder in the slough alone, struggled on toward the far side—toward the wicket gate. But, though he struggled with all his strength and skill, he could not get out, because of his burden. Then I saw a man come to him whose name was Help, and he asked him, "What are you doing out there?"
CHRISTIAN: Sir, I was told to go this way by a man named Evangelist, who directed me to yonder gate that I might get rid of my burden and escape the wrath to come, and as I was going there, I fell in here.
HELP: But why did you not look for the steps?
CHRISTIAN: Fear took possession of my mind, and I took the nearest way.
Then said Help, "Give me your hand." So he pulled him out, placed him on solid ground, and showed him the path that led to the little gate.
Then I went to the man who pulled him out and asked, "Sir, since this is the way from the City of Destruction to yonder gate, why has this place not been mended, that poor travelers might go to the gate of hope with more security?"
And he replied: "This miry slough is such a place that cannot be mended. It is the low ground where the scum and filth of a guilty conscience, caused by conviction of sin, continually gather, and for this reason it is called the Slough of Despond. As sinners are awakened by the Holy Spirit and see their vile condition, there arise in their souls many doubts and fears and many discouraging apprehensions, all of which merge and settle in this place; and that is the reason for this marshy slough.
"It is not the pleasure of the King that this place should remain so foul. His laborers, by the direction of His surveyors, have been employed for more than sixteen hundred years to improve this swamp, and it has swallowed up at least twenty thousand carloads of solid truth, and tons and tons of wholesome instructions, which have been brought at all seasons from every part of the kingdom—and those who know say that the best materials have been brought to make good ground of this place—but it is the Slough of Despond still, and it will so remain after they have done what they can.
"It is true," he continued, "that some good and substantial steps have been placed through this slough by order of the Lord of salvation, but at times this marsh spews out a lot of filth, and in times of changing weather the steps are hardly seen. Even if the steps are visible to a normal person, here a man's head often becomes so dizzy that he cannot see the steps; then he staggers to one side and mires down in the slime. Nevertheless, the steps are there. However, the ground is firm beyond the little gate."
Now, I saw in my dream that Pliable had gotten home with his family. His neighbors had come in to visit him. Some said he was a wise man for coming back; some called him a fool for hazarding his life with such a person as Christian; and others mocked at his cowardice, saying, "Surely, if I had begun to venture, I would not have been so weak and worthless as to give up and turn back because of a few difficulties."
Pliable sat sheepishly among them, but finally he gained courage enough to talk. Then they all turned on Christian and slandered him behind his back.
Joined by Worldly Wiseman
Now as Christian was walking alone, he saw one coming across the field toward him. This was Mr. Worldly Wiseman, who lived in the town of Carnal Policy, a town not far from Christian's home. He had heard of Christian's leaving home in search of an unseen country, and had an inkling of who he was. When they met, Mr. Worldly Wiseman began the conversation: "How are you, my good fellow? Whither bound in this burdened manner?"
CHRISTIAN: Burdened indeed, as much as any poor creature can be. And since you ask, I am going to that little gate yonder before me; for there, I am informed, I shall be directed in the way to be rid of my burden.
WORLDLY WISEMAN: Do you have a wife and children?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, but I am so troubled of late that I cannot enjoy them as I once did, and I feel as if I had none.
WORLDLY WISEMAN: Will you listen if I offer my counsel?
CHRISTIAN: If it is good, I will; for I need good counsel.
WORLDLY WISEMAN: Then I would advise you to assert yourself and throw off that burden at once, for you will never be settled in mind until you do; nor can you ever enjoy the blessings God has given you as long as you carry that burden.
CHRISTIAN: Well, that is what I am seeking—to be rid of this heavy burden—but I cannot get it off my mind. And there is no one in my country who can take it off for me. Therefore I am going this way, as I told you, that I may be rid of it, and be happy and free.
WORLDLY WISEMAN: Who told you to go this way to find deliverance from your burden?
CHRISTIAN: A man who appeared to be a wise and good person. His name is Evangelist.
WORLDLY WISEMAN: Evangelist! I hope he's punished for such advice! There is not a more dangerous and troublesome way in the world than this way into which he has directed you. Evidently you have met with misfortune already. I judge from your appearance that you have been in the Slough of Despond. And that slough is only the beginning of the sorrows that come to those who travel this road. Hear me, since I am older than you. You are likely to meet with pain, poverty, hunger, perils, dangers, lions, dragons, and even death, and you are sure to be weary and lonesome much of the time, trudging your way in darkness. This is most certainly true, having been confirmed by many who have gone this way. And why should a good and intelligent man so carelessly throw his life away, following the instructions of a crank?
CHRISTIAN: Sir, this burden on my back is more terrible than all these things which you have mentioned. I feel I do not care what happens to me, if I can only find relief from my burden.
WORLDLY WISEMAN: How did you come in possession of your burden in the first place?
CHRISTIAN: By reading this book in my hand.
WORLDLY WISEMAN: I thought so. It has happened to you as to other weak men. Some meddle with things too deep for them and suddenly find themselves in your condition, which not only unnerves men but also causes them to go on desperate ventures to obtain they know not what.
CHRISTIAN: I know what I want to obtain—to be free from this burden.
Excerpted from Pilgrim's Progress in Today's English by John Bunyan. Copyright © 1992 The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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